Moms Beware! Alex Upton, 26, has warned other parents of the danger of hair tourniquet syndrome, after her son, Ezra was left in agony.
Her 10-week-old boy almost lost 4 of his toes when a single strand of her hair became wrapped around them for 14 hours and cut off blood circulation to them.
Alex said she discovered something was seriously wrong when she was woken by the crying infant and he refused milk.
After spotting his red, swollen toes, she discovered a piece of her own light brown hair, which she believes had been wrapped around them for ’12 to 14 hours’.
A teaching assistant, from Paignton, Devon; Alex said:
“I feared Ezra might lose some of his toes and he could easily have needed to have them removed if I hadn’t noticed the hair then. It must have been on there for 12 to 14 hours because I only noticed it in the morning.”
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Describing how she discovered the situation, Alex said:
“Ezra wasn’t himself in the morning. He wasn’t having any of his milk and was just screaming. It wasn’t until I was changing him and saw the little bit of hair that I realised why he was so upset. It was just a single strand. Four of the toes on his left foot were red and swollen due to the strand of hair cutting off blood flow.”
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“I pulled at the hair and realised how tightly it’d wrapped around his toes. I managed to get it off except for the toe next to his big toe. That’d gone so tight that it got to the point where I couldn’t get it off. His toes are so small that it was hard to get under the piece of hair.”
While she tried to free Ezra’s toes, Alex said she made a panicked call to her husband, Ben, 29.
“After 15 minutes, I thought I’d have to call the doctor or take him to hospital but in the end, I managed to get my tweezers underneath and pulled it off. After that, I did take Ezra to the doctors just to be checked over and they gave me some anti-bacterial cream to put on it. I’ll certainly be checking everything for hair from now on. I felt awful. I just can’t believe midwives or doctors don’t warn you of the risk when you have a baby.”
Alex Upton, who is currently on maternity leave with Ezra, has urged other parents to stay vigilant when bathing or dressing their children.
“My advice to any parents would be when you’re changing baby-grows or putting on socks, or even getting them out of the bath, check thoroughly and make sure you turn clothing inside out first to remove any stray hair. Luckily, Ezra’s okay now and back to his normal self.”
Hair tourniquet syndrome occurs when hair wraps around a body part and cuts off circulation. Symptoms include excessive crying, red or discoloured fingers, toes, genitals, tongue or umbilical cord, mild to severe swelling, an indentation even if the hair isn’t visible.
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Mothers are advised to brush their hair regularly to prevent loose hair from falling out randomly, keep hair tied back and check their baby’s toes and fingers.
In a previous case of hair tourniquet syndrome, a baby girl had to have plastic surgery to repair the damage caused.
In April this year, Gemma Fraser, 35, from Edinburgh, told how a strand of her hair had bound two of her daughter ,Orla’s toes together, gradually becoming tighter.
Orla, 3 months-old at the time of the incident had to undergo plastic surgery on one of the toes 5 months later because the skin would not heal.
Cass McNamara, a midwife turned author and speaker on maternity issues, called on parents to check their babies every day for entwined hair.
She said at the time:
“People should be made aware, to check the baby every day. Hair is incredibly strong and can act like fishing wire. This has led to babies having toes and fingers amputated. It can also affect the penis. If your baby is more fractious than usual, give him or her a good once over. If you can see a hair, and it’s easy to get off, take it off, but if it’s really tight, get to an A&E department as soon as possible. It’s not just hair. The tourniquet can also be something like a strand from a wool blanket, or a loose piece of thread from socks or a babygrow.”
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